Visa restrictions will not affect ordinary Belarusians, European Commissioner explained

It won’t affect the people of Belarus, but the Commissioner is ready to take some action on visas and Belarus.

European Commissioner Ylva Johansson speaking in the European Parliament. Brussels, Belgium. October 1, 2019. Photo: European Parliament/ Flickr, CC BY 2.0

In the afternoon of July 12, European Commissioner Ylva Johansson said that the European Union might consider suspending the process of issuing Schengen visas to citizens of Belarus due to the migrant crisis at the Lithuanian border. In turn, Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya said that her team had contacted the European Commission, and the information about the suspension of visas for Belarusians had not been confirmed.

In the evening of July 12, Johansson published a clarification on Twitter:

“The EU stands ready to consider actions against the regime in #Belarus including under the visa facilities. This will not affect the people of Belarus, who will continue to benefit from the agreement, including low visa fees.”

In an initial statement (on video at 14:55), Johansson said that she was “ready to consider taking action to suspend visas for Belarus in this situation.”

Johansson’s explanation does not give all the answers as to what kind of action on visas the European commissioner is willing to consider. However, previous packages of sanctions against Lukashenka’s entourage included a nominal ban on entry into the EU for people who were said to be responsible for election fraud and repression in Belarus.